Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘care giving

Survival Tactics

leave a comment »

After two weeks of recovering from knee replacement surgery, Cyndie returned to be seen by the surgeon’s assistant and have the bandage removed from the incision. Now able to walk with only a cane for support, she let me wait in the car and navigated her way to the appointment unassisted.

The prognosis was excellent and the incision looks fantastic. Apparently, all my tender loving care is doing wonders for her. That, and the fact she has been downright heroic about balancing exercise and rest.

I was saved from needing to do the grocery shopping because Cyndie shopped online and we were able to pick up the order from the store on our way home from the doctor’s appointment. She is reclaiming some of the meal prep roles which eases some of my caregiving stress. There is nothing more challenging for me and my limited kitchen prowess than becoming responsible for feeding the head chef at a time when healthy meals are more important than ever.

And Cyndie even prepared and froze many meals in advance of her surgery to help me out during her convalescence. The master of reheating faced new complications in dishing up servings for a person other than just himself. In real estate, it’s “location, location, location.” In the kitchen, it’s “timing, timing, timing.” Heating more than a single portion of a single item threw a wrench into my old solo living survival tactics.

After getting groceries put away and laundry dried and folded and lunch dishes cleaned up, I snuck in another version of a test ride on my new bicycle. New shoes tested very well. New pedals needed tension adjusted on the clips. The seat needed to come up another fraction. The new computer sensor is working for speed and cadence. I’m starting to get the hang of brake lever shifting.

Only one problem remains. Something in the drivetrain is making a noise when I put pressure on the pedals and I have yet to figure out what it is. I can’t even say for sure whether the creaking sound is coming from the crank or bottom bracket or further back by the rear derailleur. A return visit to the bike shop is planned.

All this activity culminated in a brief rest when I returned to the house. I just wanted to sit down for a moment and check messages on my phone, maybe play a few rounds against my frenemies in “Words with Friends.”

That didn’t last very long. I conked out. Cyndie thought it looked cute that Delilah and I were napping together.

My nap seemed to energize Cyndie because after Delilah and I got up, she walked downstairs for the first time in over two weeks, went for a walk outside in the sunshine down to the shop, and later cooked dinner on the grill out on the deck. She then proceeded to recline with her leg raised and cooled by the fancy rented machine to control swelling after all that exercise.

She’s like the perfect patient wielding her own excellent survival tactics.

I’d like to know what she did with my wife.



Written by johnwhays

May 4, 2022 at 6:00 am

Calm Existence

leave a comment »

It is a blessing indeed to make it through a day with animals and a wife recovering from surgery and experience no unexpected drama. Maybe I am feeling particularly appreciative because the day before yesterday was noticeably less so.

Not surprisingly, the Siamese cat with the pretty blue collar showed up on our deck again. I figured a return visit was likely given the way the neighbor’s big Pyrenees guard dog chased after the kitty when I returned it the first time. We chose to pay it no attention in hopes it would return home on its own.

All was going well, in terms of our ignoring it until Delilah got up from a nap and went ballistic over the presence of the uninvited feline visitor. I don’t know what it is about this cat that the dogs become so worked up over while other cats nearby walk around unnoticed.

Ultimately, the plan appears to have worked because there was no sign of the Siamese anywhere yesterday. I didn’t want to do anything that might invite continued future visits.

I also didn’t see the barn cat that we thought might be living in our hay shed, but I wondered if it might be hiding in there somewhere and had possibly been near a skunk. The unwelcome aroma was vague but present when I opened the big door to the shed. Something about the presence of the odor led me to believe it wasn’t coming directly from a skunk. Seemed more believable that it was a “second-hand” stink.

It was time yesterday afternoon to move more bales to the barn, even though there are moments when the horses are showing more interest in biting the fence boards than eating more hay this time of year. They loiter near the fence to the pastures and hope I will notice and give them what they want.

Cyndie has approved a plan I devised yesterday to rig up a way to allow them access to the round pen later today. With little activity in there the last few years, grass has overtaken the sand. It would be just fine with us if they grazed that grass down to nothing like they are doing in the paddocks.

That should buy us a little time of entertaining their cravings until we deem the grass in the back pasture ready for being stomped on and eaten. The first day they get on that tall grass, they will only have 15-30 minutes to munch. Access will be granted after they have already eaten the morning or evening servings, so they don’t feel overly hungry in the moment.

Each day their time on the pasture will be increased by 15-30 minutes. The microbes that inhabit a horse’s gut vary depending on what is being eaten. We want to allow time for the microbial population to change in balance with the new green grass being offered.

They’ll be excited enough as it is to be grazing in the pasture. We don’t want to spoil the otherwise calm existence by introducing new digestive problems.



Written by johnwhays

April 29, 2022 at 6:00 am

Little Busy

leave a comment »

I have been asked to prepare waffles for breakfast today. After walking the dog and feeding the horses, cutting melons, and heating up a scone from the freezer to tide Cyndie over while she waits, I’ve used up my time previously claimed for writing.

If you still have an urge to read something possibly relative, I’ll toss in the ol’ wayback machine for you to explore a random post from the archives. May you rediscover a gem from the past that aligns with your immediate present. I always find it a special treasure when that happens for me.




Written by johnwhays

April 23, 2022 at 9:48 am

Double Shifts

leave a comment »

It’s only been four days since Cyndie’s knee surgery and I’m already longing for the day she can lose the walker, get off narcotics, and become even fractionally more self-sufficient. Between responding to her needs for assistance, becoming the (previously prepared by Cyndie) head food-reheater and server at mealtimes, and covering all of the animal care jobs myself, I’m getting dizzy.

Every time I find myself cast in the role of needing to feed Cyndie, I am reminded why I never looked for work waiting tables in a restaurant. My poor brain doesn’t like trying to remember multiple requests delivered all at once. And thinking about those words, “all at once,” how in the heck do people get the timing down to prepare a meal with all the food ready at the same time?

I find myself repeatedly choosing to feed us one at a time. Assemble a plate for Cyndie and then come back and do it a second time for me.

Cyndie is very patient and understanding, so most of the frustrating pressure I’m feeling is self-induced. I know that. But knowing that doesn’t do much to calm my stress in the critical moment of assembling a meal on the plate for serving. When the stress is magnified by a last-minute request to watch an episode of “Ted Lasso” on the tv monitor brought out to the coffee table by the couch while she eats, my circuits start to overheat a bit.

You see, the computer-to-tv cabling had yet to be worked out so I needed to hunt down an HDMI cable, get the necessary power cables, and then search through on-screen menus to figure out how to mirror the laptop screen to the tv. I could always deal with the audio later.

As it was, I begged to deal with it all later and resorted to simply watching it on her laptop for the time being. …After she had already finished her dinner and before I had started mine.

Last-minute timing is not my strong suit.

I will work on mastering the temporary computer-to-tv setup in the living room later today, once I’ve got all the animals fed and Cyndie’s coffee and breakfast served.

Onward. Double-time.



Written by johnwhays

April 22, 2022 at 6:00 am

Pain Management

with 2 comments

Which is more difficult: Suffering great pain ourselves or watching a loved one suffer pain that we can’t do anything about? It hurts either way. The good news is that Cyndie is home and making great progress in coping with the immediate after-effects of a TKA.

You know, Total Knee Arthroplasty. Geesh. Loosely, arthro -joint / plasty -molding, grafting or forming. Otherwise known as knee replacement.

Progress doesn’t mean mastering. As of last night, I would describe it as the pain having the best of her. Pain: 2 / Cyndie: 1.

My biggest challenge is figuring out how to keep her from doing anything that isn’t helpful to her situation while she is on pain medication. Keeping Cyndie from doing things is akin to herding cats.

She was on the couch resting when I stepped out to walk Delilah and tend to the horses yesterday afternoon. In the fraction of an hour that I was outside, she got up off the couch and worked on hanging up new shower curtains that were delivered to our house on Monday.

That wasn’t something that needed to happen and could easily have waited for me to take care of later.

This kind of behavior makes it even harder on me when she later cries in pain and admits maybe she did a little too much. Ya think?

I’m not a great one for policing her actions in general. How do you stop a perpetual motion machine? As a result, it’s complicated for me when my role in caring for her involves trying to control her activities. She tells me it hurts if she lays too long, so she gets up and walks. Looks to me like it hurts to walk and it hurts when she struggles back into bed.

Thankfully, there was room to increase the dosage of pain meds to manage her comfort at this phase of the recovery.

The saving grace of this knee replacement is going to be the iceless cold compression therapy machine Cyndie rented. Chilled water is automatically pumped through a wrap on her knee and it cycles on and off in programmed intervals.

I was able to watch Cyndie’s initial physical therapy session before we left the recovery hotel and I asked the therapist about how important the exercises are to optimizing recovery. Her answer: they are 100% the key to achieving full range of motion but you must do them all consistently as prescribed and no more than prescribed. Shouldn’t underdo or overdo it.

Hmm. I’m gonna opt out of being in charge of that.

Hopefully, it won’t be long before the pain is managed without narcotics altering her consciousness. It’s challenging enough for me to keep pace with Cyndie’s mode of operation on normal days.



Mostly Waiting

with one comment

Most of my day yesterday was spent waiting. Cyndie did almost the same amount of waiting, but she was anesthetized for part of it and in a pain-management-induced stupor for others. I had the easier job, despite the tedium.

Prepped and waiting, I snapped a shot of Cyndie looking her best in a very fashionable hair net and hospital gown. The procedure was a knee replacement, her second. We filled some of the wait time by chatting with her surgeon and later the anesthetist, who described a very interesting path to choosing his career. He served time on military mobile medical units and also was assigned to rapid response teams that travel to foreign cities where U.S. Presidents fly, providing “in case needed” precautions.

The woman who performed the surgery came highly recommended and lived up to a comment from one of the nurses that she works fast. For all the waiting before and after, the portion of actual replacement surgery took a little under an hour. The doctor came out to report everything went smoothly and suggested I get some lunch while Cyndie sleeps off the residual anesthesia effects. She said it would be at least an hour.

It was closer to two. When they finally called me back to see Cyndie again after she woke up, leg pain was her biggest complaint. Still, they had her up and walking moments later. After more waiting, during which they monitored vital signs and increased her pain meds, the medical transport team showed up to whisk her away to a hotel for overnight monitoring.

The view out her third-floor window:









Maybe the new knee will turn her into an athlete. Maybe it won’t. At least they were able to make her more comfortable.

Does it show?

They had her hooked up to a machine that ran chilled water around the knee to control swelling and pain. I was allowed to end my waiting and head home to take care of animals and sleep through the night in my own bed. Nurses will be checking on Cyndie all night, something I am very happy the are doing instead of me.

I’ll pick Cyndie up this morning and take over primary care. It’s nice to have had the first night worry-free and know she was under the watchful eyes of trained professionals.

It’s one of the greatest honors of my life to be allowed to play the role of Cyndie’s closest supporter in times of extra need. The waiting part is over now. Let the healing begin!



Written by johnwhays

April 19, 2022 at 6:00 am